Thursday, April 26, 2012

Revelation 12

     Revelation 12-14 shows the great conflict between God and Satan. Christianity is not a dualistic faith -- the powers of good and evil are NOT co-eternal and they are NOT equal. Satan is cast down and will be vanquished.
     Chapter 12 is using imagery that is drawn from ancient mythology as well as the Old Testament. Stories of the birth of gods and their battles with great dragons can be found Greek and Egyptian mythologies. At the heart of the story is the woman (Israel) giving birth to Jesus and Satan's opposition to God's people. The dragon here is portrayed as having seven heads, ten horns and seven crowns. The student of history would easily recognize the thinly veiled reference to Rome. Rome was built on seven hills and by the end of the first century there had been ten emperors. Calling Rome "dragon" when the great dragon is Satan himself is a way of connecting the temporal power (the Roman Empire) with the greater evil empire of the evil one.
     The curious thing in 12 are verses 6 and 14. Notice that the woman (Israel/The Church) flees into the wilderness or escapes into the wilderness when the dragon pursues her. The Wilderness, in biblical understanding, was not a bad or treacherous place. The wilderness is the place between destinations and was the place where God formed and shaped and protected his people. The Old Testament prophets looked with longing on the wilderness stories of Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy because in the wilderness the people were near to the presence of God and were fully dependent on God. Only when we come into our inheritance and begin to "settle" in the promised land do we lose sight of this intimacy. In the wilderness God fed his people, protected them with a pillar of fire and cloud. God's presence of imminent and palpable. When we seek the unshaped and unformed (undeveloped) places of life we find that we can cut the tethers that hold us to the mundane details of life. In desert places we find a spiritual awakening and renewal that is not possible otherwise. I pray we all find our wilderness places where God's presence is not rote and routine but intimate and dynamic.

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